The holy Francis Xavier is recognized as one of the Church’s greatest missionaries. More than anything I see Xavier as a man with a great humanity who had an intense love for the Lord, His Church and for those given to him as friends. The Gospel only has a vitality if the minister reflects the tenderness of the Savior. It is the experience of the Lord’s gaze upon us that we can turn toward others. Hence, it was Xavier’s capacity to love and to work for his Lord that allowed him to be build the Body of Christ in Asia.
We know the story. Xavier was born near Pamplona, Spain, in 1506, the youngest child in a large family. While attending to studies at the University of Paris he met Ignatius of Loyola, who gave him the Exercises. Sensing the call to serve the Lord in a different way, he joined other early companions who became the first members of the Company of Jesus (the Society of Jesus, aka, the Jesuits). Xavier was ordained a priest and missioned to be first missionary to the East — coast of India.
Catholics were not doing well and things turned around with Xavier’s praying the Mass, the faithful administration of the sacraments, his preaching and teaching the faith. Xavier was renown for baptizing thousands. His missionary activity lasted for 11 years.
Georg Schurhammer’s three-volume biography of Francis Xavier is a wonderful gift to read. The intensity of his love is remarkable.